Government backs call for classroom coding

BBC Micro, BBC Many modern video game giants cut their programming teeth on the BBC Micro

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The teaching of computer science must become more relevant to modern needs, said the government.

The government said the current teaching of IT was "insufficiently rigorous and in need of reform".

The call for change came in a response to an industry report which looked at technology teaching in the UK.

Without reform future UK workers would lack key skills and the nation would lose its standing as a video games and visual arts hub, said the report.

Game over

The Next Gen report was published in October and criticised current ICT (information and communication technology) classes which tended to focus on how to use software rather than on how to write it.

Written by gaming guru Ian Livingstone and visual effects veteran Alex Hope, Next Gen called for programming skills to replace learning about business software in ICT lessons.

In its response, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the report had set out some "compelling" ideas about how to make the UK a hub for video games and visual effects.

Creative industries minister Ed Vaizey said computer games and the visual effects sectors had a clear economic and cultural value.

"We need to invest in talent that will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of games creativity," he said.

The high quality jobs that could be created in the gaming and effects sectors might help the UK's recovery from recession, added Mr Vaizey.

The DCMS response considered the 20 points for action given in Next Gen and said that, as well as looking into ICT reform, it would take action on other fronts including investigating ways to tempt good teachers of computer science into schools and stepping up plans to get game makers and effects artists to talk to pupils about their work.

Optional

The government shied away from agreeing to include ICT in the national curriculum which was one of the main goals of the Next Gen report.

Despite this, Mr Livingstone said he was "absolutely delighted" with the response because of a separate commitment to ensure that school children would be more digitally literate.

"It's an open door for us to have a dialogue and talk to the Department for Education in particular which we couldn't do until quite recently," he told the BBC.

The Next Gen report led to the creation of a nationwide campaign which has urged a more hands-on approach to tech in classrooms.

Google, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Sega, Electronic Arts, Activision, Talk Talk and the Guardian Media Group have all backed the call for change to ICT teaching.

Mr Livingston said the skills campaign would now work hard to influence the re-writing of the curriculum to ensure core digital skills were included.

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